Today allerguard, an Israel-based startup that makes a device to detect airborne food allergens, announced that it has raised a $1.5 million seed round (h/t Agfunder). The round was led by Coshare with participation from eHealth Ventures and the Israeli government’s tech investment arm. This brings the company’s total funding to $2.2 million.
Founded in 2016, allerguard makes a small handheld device that uses airborne detection methods to scan your entire plate for food allergens in 60 seconds. The details of how all of this actually works are pretty scant, but according to its website, you hold allerguard above your plate and the device absorbs vapors emitted from the food. It then uses AI to analyze the chemical structure of the vapor molecules to determine the presence of common food allergens, such as peanuts or eggs, down to parts per billion.
Hopefully allerguard is as accurate as it claims, since when it comes to severe food allergies there’s not a lot of room for error. According to Food Allergy Research & Education, in the U.S. roughly 200,000 people require emergency medical attention for a food allergy reaction per year. That number is set to increase as food allergies in children are on the rise.
So it’s no surprise that allerguard isn’t the first company to try and make it easier for consumers to analyze their food for allergy triggers. Nima makes handheld peanut and gluten detectors, and Israeli company SensoGenic makes a sensor that can analyze food for common allergens.
However, both of those devices require users to insert a sample of food in order to detect allergens, so if someone isn’t able to include every part of the meal in that small sample, it wouldn’t be comprehensive. Since allerguard is reliant not on a physical sample of food but on the molecules in vapors emitted over a plate of food, it claims that it can analyze an entire meal at once.
Both Nima and SensoGenic are already to market, whereas allerguard is still in testing stages (according to its website, the device will be available to the public “soon”). But if it can follow through on its promise to scan an entire meal at once that could mark a major game change in food allergy detection tech.